Nitric oxide (NO) is not only an important signaling molecule, but it also regulates the expression of a number of genes in the liver. We have previously shown that apoptosis in hepatocytes exposed to tumor necrosis factor-α and actinomycin D is prevented by NO derived from the inducible nitric-oxide synthase (iNOS), by mechanisms that are both dependent on and independent of modulation of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) subsequent to activation of soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC). We hypothesize that one mechanism by which NO exerts these effects is by regulating the expression of genes involved in apoptosis. We used differential display-polymerase chain reaction to isolate NO-regulated genes in hepatocytes from iNOS knockout mice (to eliminate endogenous inducible NO production). Using this analysis, we identified a NO-suppressed gene fragment homologous with the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 binding protein BNIP3. Northern analysis confirmed the NO-dependent suppression of BNIP3 in cultured cells. Similarly, the NO donor S-nitroso-N-acetyl-DL-penicillamine (1-1000 μM) down-regulated the expression of BNIP3 in both iNOS knockout and wild-type hepatocytes. This effect of NO was reversed by the sGC inhibitor 1H-(1,2,4)-oxadiazole[4,3-a]quinoxalon-1-one (ODQ), suggesting the involvement of the sGC/cGMP pathway in the modulation of BNIP3 by NO. We propose that suppression of BNIP3 expression is one sGC/cGMP-dependent mechanism by which NO might affect the process of hepatocyte apoptosis.